Heart over Height: De Pere native Olivia DeCleene shining in final year with St. Norbert basketball

Heart over Height: De Pere native Olivia DeCleene shining in final year with St. Norbert basketball
Posted at 9:57 PM, Jan 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-17 22:57:08-05

DE PERE — The St. Norbert women’s basketball team is off to their best start in quite sometime, undefeated in NACC play.

If you head over to watch the Green Knights at the Mulva Sports Center, there you will find one player who has the most hustle you might ever see and is also a big reason for their success.

“The running background definitely helps,” said senior guard Olivia DeCleene, referencing her high school running days.

DeCleene is described by her team as the energizer bunny, full of fire, a feisty little point guard and a coaches dream.

Despite her small stature, listed as 5’4” on a good day, the former De Pere Redbirds star is the heartbeat of the team.

“You talk about wanting to build that culture and she’s that person you want to be in that fox hole with,” said Green Knights head coach Amanda Perry.

“I always say heart over height,” DeCleene said. “It really doesn’t matter how big you are as long as you have that drive in you and that heart and that competitive fire to want to do well. It’s going to take you a long way.”

The two-time Green Knights captain can fill the stat sheet with points and rebounds averaging 10 points and 5 boards a game, but what she likes most is racking up assists. She had 12 in the St. Norbert’s double-digit win over Rockford last weekend. 

“She sees the floor and she knows where people should be before they know it,” said Perry.

“That’s what it’s all about – it’s about my teammates. It's about getting them involved because if this was just a one man show we wouldn’t be winning.”

She also sets the tone for their defense.

“She continues to really amaze us defensively,” Perry said. “She just guards everybody on the floor sometimes.”

“(I) wanted to be someone that was known as being a defender. A very good defender that can lock another teams point guard down,” said the sixth-year senior.

But before her college playing career began, she chose between St. Norbert and UW- Eau Claire. She chose to go to Eau Claire to get far away from home.

“I quickly realized that wasn’t a good reason and found that my heart was here and loved it ever since – academically and athletically,” said DeCleene.

So she transferred back to her hometown to play with the Green Knights. It’s safe to say it was a good decision for her and the program as they have had a lot of success together. 

“I don't know if I'm ever going to have another Olivia in my career,” said Perry. “I hope I do because she’s been so much fun to be around. We just have some good times and good memories together and I hope we can create some more.”

“Coming into St. Norbert that’s what I wanted, I wanted to leave the program better than I found it. (I’m) definitely going to miss it once it’s all over,” DeCleene said.